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8 Nintendo Products That Aren’t Video Games

Although Nintendo is one of the most iconic brands in video game history, the company was in business for nearly a century before the NES, Game Boy, or even Mario were ever dreamed up. Founded in 1889, the Kyoto, Japan-based company was known as Nintendo Koppai in its formative years and primarily made different types of playing cards before branching off into toys and board games. Here are 8 non-video game products from Nintendo’s near-127-year history.

1. PLAYING CARDS 

One of Nintendo’s most popular playing card series was the Ehon Trump, a kind of picture book that featured TV-shaped boxes with famous Japanese cartoons and comic book characters inside (think Astro Boy and Ultraman). In 1959, the company acquired a license from Disney to produce toys and games for the Japanese market, and added such beloved characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to the lineup.

2. RABBIT COASTER

After decades of producing playing cards, Nintendo expanded to the toy and game market in 1964 with Rabbit Coaster, a game in which players raced colored beans down a series of descending tracks and levels to the finish line. The game’s popularity led Nintendo to release a whole series of “coaster” games, including My Car Race, Punch Race, and a sequel to Rabbit Coaster.

3. ULTRA HAND

Struggling against heavyweights like Bandai in the Japanese toy market, Nintendo turned to up-and-coming designer Gunpei Yokoi to brainstorm some fresh ideas for the company. In 1966, Yokoi unveiled Ultra Hand, a plastic grabber toy that could expand and contract with its handles. The toy became a smash hit in Japan and was Nintendo’s first product to sell more than one million units.

Fun Fact: In 1989—more than two decades later—Gunpei Yokoi also created the Game Boy for Nintendo.

4. MACH RIDER 

In 1972 Nintendo released Mach Rider, a battery-powered race car that rested on a ramp connected to gauges and a gear shift, into the Japanese toy market. When its user would shift from one gear to the next, the car would charge and increase speed while docked. Once the user shifted into fourth gear, the Mach Rider would shoot off the ramp.

5. ULTRA MACHINE

In 1967, following the success of Ultra Hand, Gunpei Yokoi created Ultra Machine, a battery-powered pitching machine that came with ping pong balls and a colorful plastic bat. The toy became another hit for Nintendo, and gave the company the opportunity to branch out into foreign markets. When the Ultra Machine was released in the United States and Australia, Nintendo changed its name to Slugger Mate, as the “Ultra” brand was only recognizable in Japan.

6. MAGIC ROULETTE

Released in the mid-1960s, Magic Roulette was aimed squarely at the adult market. The sophisticated roulette game came with plastic betting chips, a playing field, metal ball bearings, and a roulette wheel, plus playing cards. Magic Roulette could be played as traditional roulette or a variation of five-card poker using five ball bearings during a spin instead of just one.   

7. LIGHT TELEPHONE

In 1971 Nintendo released the Light Telephone, a two-way walkie-talkie that used transmitted light for communication instead of radio waves. Rather than market the Light Telephone to children, Nintendo targeted it as a novelty item for tech-savvy adults. It was only available in Japan, but it got some attention in Popular Science as a “walkie-talkie flashlight.” 

8. CHIRITORI

In the late 1970s, Nintendo released a small, radio-controlled vacuum cleaner as a game. It was called Chiritori, which means “dustpan” in Japanese. Although Chiritori could actually pick up dust and other gunk off a floor, it was intended to be a toy, not an actual household cleaning device. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chiritori wasn’t a bestseller for Nintendo; the company only made a limited amount of units, and the toy was discontinued shortly after its release.

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'Puggle,' 'Emoji,' and 298 Other New Words Added to Scrabble Dictionary
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Scrabble aficionados and wordsmiths around the world will soon have some new reading material to bone up on. In celebration of National Scrabble Day today, the makers of the classic word game announced that 300 new words will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary.

The new words will be published in the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary, which will be released this fall, according to Mashable.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Emoji (noun): A small computer symbol used to express emotion
Ew (interjection): Used to express disgust
Facepalm (verb): To cover the face with the hand
Macaron (noun): A cookie with filling in the middle
Puggle (noun): A kind of dog
Sriracha (noun): A spicy pepper sauce

Some players of the 70-year-old game may be surprised to learn that “ew” isn’t already a word, especially considering that Scrabble recognizes more than 100 two-letter words, including “hm” (another expression), “ai” (a three-toed sloth), and “za” (slang for pizza). If played strategically and placed on a triple word square, “ew” can land you 15 points—not bad for two measly letters.

New Scrabble words must meet a few criteria before they’re added to the official dictionary. They must be two to eight letters long and already in a standard dictionary. Abbreviations, capitalized words, and words with hyphens or apostrophes are immediately ruled out.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told Entertainment Weekly, “For a living language, the only constant is change. New dictionary entries reflect our language and our culture, including rich sources of new words such as communication technology and food terms from foreign languages.”

The last edition of the Scrabble dictionary came out in 2014 and included 5000 new words, such as "selfie," "hashtag," "geocache," and "quinzhee."

[h/t Mashable]

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25 Double-Letter Scrabble Words to Have in Your Back Pocket
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The best Scrabble players are the strategic ones who keep adding words to their player vocabulary. Once you've mastered a number of two-letter words and the high-scoring ones (that are admittedly very difficult to play), start looking to double-letter words to take advantage of the multiples on your tile rack.

1. AGLOO

seal on snow
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Don't have an I for IGLOO? Use an A for AGLOO, meaning an air hole through the ice made by a seal.

2. ALLEE

allee
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Instead of an ALLEY, use this double-double-lettered word meaning a tree-lined walkway.

3. BETTA

betta fish
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Rather than BETA, use that extra T to mean the freshwater fish.

4. BRATTICE

Coal mine
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A BRATTICE now means a heavy curtain or barrier in a mine to help direct air flow, though the medieval meaning was simply a temporary partition along a wall.

5. DRESSAGE

Dressage
Adam Ihse, AFP/Getty Images

The fanciest of all horse training and equestrian events, DRESSAGE is the obedience and discipline riding competition, rather than the racing.

6. FUGGY

man holding his nose because of terrible smell
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To FUG is to make something stuffy or odorous, but its adjective form (FUGGY) and past and present participles (FUGGED, FUGGING) will take care of any extra Gs on the board.

7. GHYLL

two people looking into a ravine
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Not only will GHYLL, which is a deep ravine, utilize a double-letter, but it will help if your tile bar is sorely lacking in vowels.

8. GRAAL

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GRAAL is an older form of the word GRAIL, but it's also a technique used in glassblowing.

9. HEELER

Shoemaker holding high heels
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Don't have an A for HEALER? A HEELER is a person who puts heels on shoes (as well as an Australian cattle dog).

10. HELLUVA

cursing key on keyboard
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If you're having a HELLUVA time getting rid of a few letters, this nonstandard combination word is actually Scrabble-approved.

11. INNAGE

worker examining containers
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INNAGE is the quantity of goods remaining in a container when received after shipment.

12. LARRUP

man defeating other man at video games
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To decisively defeat someone or trounce them is to LARRUP.

13. MAMMEE

tropical island
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Another double-double-letter word, a MAMMEE is species of tropical tree with large red fruit.

14. MOGGY

cats
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A MOGGY or MOGGIES (plural) is the cat equivalent of a mutt.

15. OLLA

Salad in glass jars
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A quick word to tack onto some common board letters, an OLLA is a wide-mouthed pot or jar.

16. OUTTELL

woman with megaphone mural
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OUTTELL, OUTTELLS, and OUTTELLING all refer to speaking out or declaring something openly.

17. PERRON

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A PERRON can refer to both large outdoor stairways or the stone platforms of certain columns and edifices.

18. PIGGERY

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You're surely prepared with PIGGY, PIGGIE, and PIGGISH, but a PIGGERY is a pigpen.

19. QUASSIA

Quassia amara
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Score extra points with a well-place Q. A QUASSIA is another tropical tree whose bitter bark is sometimes used as a digestive aid or an insecticide.

20. SCABBLE

clay in hands
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No, not Scrabble. SCABBLE means to shape roughly.

21. TIPPET

tippet
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A TIPPET is a covering for the shoulders, or a ceremonial scarf worn by clergy.

22. TYPP

balls of yarn
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A TYPP (or TYPPS, plural) is a unit of yarn size. It's an acronym for thousand yards per pound.

23. VALLUM

Vallum at Hadrian's Wall
Optimist on the run, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The VALLUM was part of the defensive wall of earth and stone surrounding Roman camps.

24. WEEPIE

man and woman crying in movie theater
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While WEEPY is an adjective for tending to weep, a WEEPIE is a very maudlin movie.

25. WELLY

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According to the official Scrabble dictionary, WELLY is an acceptable form of WELLIE, the British rainboots.

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